Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm With Him

I had a really great day Friday. It started with dropping Luke off at preschool. I don't get to take him directly to his preschool class very often, so this is kind of a big deal. Before I took him to preschool, he wanted to go to his Extended Care room so he could introduce his teachers there to his brother. Isn't that sweet? Even though my boys get a little crazy with each other sometimes, the love they have for each other is pretty awesome.

After dropping him off, I took Tommy to get his haircut, where I had a very awkward encounter with a woman who thought I was named Serena and had just bought her house. By the time I realized what was going on, it was too late to correct her and I had to pretend to be Serena to be polite. I couldn't get out of there quickly enough! Following his haircut, Tommy and I went to Starbucks, where he asked for a donut. Of course I got him a donut--and one for me, too.

Then we went and visited Julie at work. In typical Tommy style, he refused to acknowledge anyone in Julie's office, but he made himself very comfortable.

Of course, when we left her office, he immediately began chattering away about Julie and her office and the pizza he ate for lunch.
We also rode some elevators and saw some fish.

And then we made our way to the fourth floor of the Comer Children's Hospital, where we saw Tommy's neurologist.

It's amazing how easily this comes to me these days. How when I told people that I was taking off work on Friday to take Tommy to University of Chicago, they were immediately troubled. "Oh no, we just have to see his neurologist. It's routine." And it is. Epilepsy is routine for us now. Tommy having a neurologist is also routine.

There was a time when it wasn't, though. Many of you followed me through that time and I can't thank you enough. There was a time when it was big and dark and scary. There are STILL times when it is big and dark and scary, but mostly it lives in the back of our mind. We know how long it's been since his last seizure (he's in his longest seizure-free stretch yet!), but we don't watch him every minute worrying that he'll have one. Mostly, we just let him be a kid. I know we're lucky. Some epileptic children have more severe cases than Tommy. It's strange to say that we're lucky, but we are. If sitting in a pediatric neurology waiting room has taught me anything, it's that it could be so much worse.

There's so much that is unknown about epilepsy. So much research that is yet to be done, and so, we've decided to participate in the 2012 Epilepsy 5k. Do you live in the area? We'd love to have you join Tommy's Team . It's a fun run/walk (we will be doing the one in Wheaton, on Saturday, May 12), so you don't even have to run. Thanks to a tremendously awesome sponsor, we will have matching shirts (now I have two months to figure out how to design a shirt), and I promise to bring donuts. And hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.
There's so much that I can't do. I can't see in the future. I can't determine if Tommy is going to outgrow his seizures. I can't make it so that another parent won't have to go through this, but I want to help. When Tommy was first diagnosed, the epilepsy foundation sent us a huge packet of materials to share with Luke. It might seem simple, but the ability to explain to Luke what was happening to Tommy--when we could hardly understand it ourselves--made such a difference. This is one of the many things the epilepsy foundation does and one of the many reasons that this is so important to us. I am running for education--and for hope, for the hope that someday, they'll understand this disease a little better and no other parent will have to helplessly hold their seizing child, praying as the seconds tick by that it will stop, that they'll be okay. I want someone out there to have this future.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

half marathon training [week 8]

This week was pretty unremarkable. No new PRs or distances or anything exciting like that. I just got out there and ran. This was an incredibly exhausting week at work, so it was sometimes a struggle to find my motivation.

Monday was the typical three mile run. The good thing was that Monday was a holiday, so I got to run in the morning. Love getting it done and out of the way, even though I didn't go out as quickly as I wanted. Still, thirty minutes later, I had the rest of the day ahead of me. And since Monday was Luke's fifth birthday, it was very important to have a free day!

Tuesday, I met Barb for a four mile run. It was super windy and she kept making me go uphill, but I had a great time. Even with the wind and the hills, I'm always amazed at how quickly the miles go by when you're not focusing on every footfall.

Wednesday, Tough Mudder training. I almost didn't do it, but Bari tweeted a picture of her amazing and totally sexy shoulders and upper arms and I was like, "Okay. I need to do this. I need sculpting!" Thursday was an easy two mile run. I went out a little fast and did my first mile in 9:15, which is pretty quick for my slow self. I ended up throwing in a few walk breaks after that little burst of energy but still finished in under 20 minutes.

Friday I was lazy, ahem. Actually, Tommy and I walked quite a few blocks at University of Chicago, so I'm counting that as some sort of exercise. This morning was a ten mile run. I was pretty dismayed at how windy it was. I'm not going to lie. I have a tough time with the wind. I have a tough time when the wind is FRIGID and blowing so hard that I can hardly run into it, let alone maintain a consistent pace. I finished with an average pace of 10:45. Given the distance, and I'm okay with that. I just wish it had not been so windy!

Finally, in more important running news, I've registered a team name for the Epilepsy 5k. It's May 12 in Wheaton, IL. Can you join us? We'd love to have you be a part of Team Tommy. It's a fun run and walk, so you don't have to run it. Walking is fine. Or you can run part of it! I plan on running, but Shane will be walking with the boys. I wish I could promise everyone who joins us a t-shirt, but alas, I probably don't have the money for it. So instead, I promise to bring donuts. Sound good? I can't wait!

Monday, February 20, 2012


Five years ago today, I was pacing the halls of the hospital in the throes of a very long labor. I spent the whole night laboring, hoping, watching the sun rise. The thought of having a baby in my arms seemed so surreal. Five years later, it seems surreal that this didn't just happen yesterday.

I was pretty worried that he wouldn't be up to his birthday celebration. Thursday night, he was hit with a stomach flu that kept us up all night long. Friday afternoon, he was still sick. When I got home at 3 that afternoon, he was sleeping. I was so sad. Friday night, he started to turn a corner and seemed better. We crossed our fingers and he woke up Saturday morning feeling better. We pushed his party back to Sunday and despite his tummy still feeling a little funny (poor buddy didn't eat any cake or ice cream), he had a great day.
He isn't always patient and kind with Tommy... I can't totally blame him because Tommy is a bit of a maniac, but I love it when I catch him being an incredibly sweet older brother.
Even though he didn't eat any cake, he loved blowing out the candles.
He requested that Shane make him a banana cake with caramel frosting. The funny thing is, that's what he had for his first birthday smash cake.

Almost five has been a little frustrating at times; this huge balance between being a big kid and a little kid. More often than not, it's been fantastic. Watching him grow at preschool has been so incredible. Talking to his teachers and caregivers and learning how much they like him, how sweet and good he is, has been a huge blessing. Watching him develop this personality and this sense of being his own human has been simply amazing.

I know a lot of super good bloggers who do birthday interviews on their kids' birthdays, but I am not that with it. I would like to be, but the best I could do was talk to Luke about some of his favorite things. If I'm with it enough to do this next year, it'll be neat to compare... but don't count on it!

Luke's favorites...
Colors: purple and pink
Food: baked potato with sour cream and pepper
Animal: horse
Thing to do at school: play soccer at recess
Candy: black licorice and black licorice jelly beans [my note: eww]
Dessert: Cake and blue moon ice cream with sprinkles
Clothing: Birthday suit!
And then he started giggling and any hope of asking him any more favorites was gone.

He is so sweet. I am pretty lucky to call him mine.
Luke through the years...
Fourth birthday
Third birthday
Second birthday

Sunday, February 19, 2012

half marathon training [week 7]

Another week down! We're getting closer and closer to April 1. I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited to earn my half marathon medal. You better believe I'm going to wear that thing out to lunch afterward.

Monday was the usual three mile run. I had trouble on this one because the snow from Friday and Saturday was completely covering the sidewalks in places, pushed there by snow blowers and snow plows. I did a lot of slogging through snow covered areas and it killed my time. Still, I finished in 33 minutes which isn't bad considering.

Tuesday was a six mile run, the longest weekly run of the training. I really struggle with six miles. I'm not sure why. I think it's because it doesn't seem quite long enough that I should need to conserve my energy, so I tend to go out at a 5k pace. Then I die at about three miles because I can't maintain that for six miles! I ran a new route that took me through the county fairgrounds, which is a pretty run. I definitely need new shoes, because my legs and hips started to hurt about halfway through. I stopped, stretched, and finished pretty strong. It helped that the last three miles were mostly downhill (I did out and back, so I deserved it after going uphill on the way out!), so I was increasing my pace by ten seconds for each mile. It's always nice to finish strong.

Wednesday was another Tough Mudder workout. I've been bad at doing these twice a week--I need to get back to that. I missed Thursday's easy one mile run (on a day with beautiful weather, no less) because I had a migraine. Ick. On top of the migraine, Luke came down with a stomach bug Thursday night, so I was up taking care of him and cleaning linens until midnight that night, only to have him get up sick again at three AM. To say I was tired Friday would be an understatement, so I definitely couldn't find the energy to do the Tough Mudder workout Friday.

Saturday morning, I still felt pretty tired, but I forced myself out the door early on my run. The training plan called for eight miles, but I felt so good when I first started that I decided to add on a mile and make it nine. I forced myself to start out slow and did 11:30 mi/mi for the first two miles before I pushed it up a little. I felt pretty strong until 7.5 miles when the wind picked up straight into my face. I pretty much died at that point! I still managed a 10:38 average pace. I was hoping to get under 10:30, but the wind just killed me. This run made me realize how far I've come. When I hit five miles, I thought, "Okay, just four miles left!" Then I remembered a time when a four mile run was this big looming impossibility, because my body just seemed to shut down at three miles. I remember emailing Keli and telling her I couldn't do it. I remember how elated I felt when I DID it and now, four miles is what I consider a short run. Funny how that works. :)

I have long and longer runs coming up the next two weeks. One is a distance that I've covered once before, the other will be my longest run to date. I'm a little wary--and thinking that I probably need to start figuring out fueling for real. I know it's frowned upon, but I've ran with a hydration belt one time. It annoyed me and I never feel like I need hydration. I hydrate plenty after the run and never struggle with that, but will I need some sort of energy gel or bites? I guess I'll figure this out soon enough!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

happy heart day

I hope your day is full of love
and making every day household objects into hats, because apparently that is really, really fun.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

half marathon training {week 6}

Halfway there! Or, I would be halfway there, if I started this twelve weeks before my training, but since I built in two weeks extra, I'm not really halfway there.

This week went really well (which always makes me nervous because that means I'm pretty much due for a bad week). Monday is pretty much always a three mile run, which is good because I can't run right after work on Mondays. It's really hard to get in the mindset that I have to come home first, then wait for Shane before I can head out the door. It makes it really hard to go. I don't like to leave once I'm home! I finished 3.1 miles in 29:47. It still amazes me when I finish in under thirty minutes, because I thought that would never, ever happen. I do feel like I'm going to have a heart attack when I finish!

Tuesday was great, because I met my friend Barb so she could show me some new running routes around my school. I'm getting tired of running the same bike trail twice a week. In nine months I've running, I've never ran with anyone so I was a little nervous. I'm not very good at multitasking, so I was afraid that talking while running would result in me falling on my face. I'm thankful to report that not only did I not fall, but I had a great time. Four miles goes by pretty quickly when you spend most of it chatting! Bonus, I found some new routes to run, which will come in handy during the work week.

Wednesday I did my Tough Mudder workout. Once again, I did not die. This is good.
Thursday I just had to run two miles. I did part of the route that Barb showed me and ran into my school's run club as I was almost finished. That was awkward, especially when one boy started cheering and yelling that he loved me. I pushed it up to a fast pace to put some distance between myself and them and finished in 19 minutes.

Then came the lake effect snow warning that was predicted to hit Friday afternoon and be at its worst throughout the night. The tricky thing about living in this area is that the prediction for where the band will hit is never 100% accurate, so I knew we could wake up to anywhere from a dusting to a foot of snow Saturday. I didn't want to chance it and miss out on my long run Saturday. Plus, I attended Beth's You Capture workshop (look for a post this week on how AWESOME it was) this morning, so I knew I'd have limited time anyway. With all of that, I decided to do my long run Friday night. If I was to list things I wanted to do on a Friday night, run eight miles would not be on it. But, you know... dedication and all that. I'd hoped to get out before the snow hit, but I had no such luck. Although there wasn't any on the ground when I left, it was like running in a snow globe. In case you're wondering, that's not very fun. The wind was pelting huge flakes straight into my face and my hood kept blowing down, until I managed to tuck the front of it underneath my headband. I almost went home at 2.5 miles when a gust wind actually blew me off the road. I'm pretty stubborn, though, so I made the decision to walk into the really bad wind gusts and save my energy. I am sure I looked like a nut for being out in that! Once I made the decision to not fight into the really bad gusts, it did start to go a little more smoothly. I was still running 95% of the time and conserving my energy when I couldn't fight the wind. And when the wind was at my back? I felt like I was flying. By the last two miles, the sidewalks were pretty drifted and I was taking it slow because I couldn't see the sidewalk through the snow and didn't want to twist an ankle on an uneven portion. Despite a fairly erratic pace, I still managed to average out at 10:28, which I'll take.
When I left, there was no snow sticking. After eight miles, it looked like this.

Next week is pretty similar, except that my Tuesday run is six miles. I am hoping that this was my last crazy snowy run for the year, but that is probably wishful thinking!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I was tagged by Bari for the eleven random things meme. Sidenote: I miss memes. Remember when those were all the rage? I think they're fun. I hope 2012 is the year of the meme.

1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people.

My eleven random things...
1. My thumbs are double jointed. This means that I can bend them behind my hand like this.
I can also bend them back at weird angles toward my wrist, but it was difficult to take a photo of that.

And also, I was afraid that it would really gross out all of my readers.
2. When there's a food that I really love (and I really love a LOT of foods), I envision either swimming in a giant vat of it or eating my way out of a room made out of it. For example, diving head first into a vat of whipped cream? Yes, please. Eating my way out of a room made of french fries? I'm in.
3. From sixth grade through my sophomore year, I played the trumpet. I miss it. I didn't really want to quit band, but it got to a point where balancing honors classes with band wasn't working for me. I still remember the fingering, but I doubt that I could get my lips to do anything with a trumpet again!
4. I really, really do not like the dark and I'm a big chicken about it. Once I was housesitting for someone and the lights went off at 11pm. It wasn't during a thunderstorm and I could see the lights from the house across the street, so in that split second, I convinced myself that a serial killer cut the lights and was waiting to kill me. Because it wasn't my house and I wasn't comfortable with the layout, I opted to crawl to the front door (note: this was before the time of big, giant smart phones that could be used as a light). With each movement forward, I convinced myself that I was going to put my hand down on someone's shoe. When I finally crawled to the front door, I saw that all the lights on my side of the street were also out so it likely wasn't a serial killer. Still, I was too freaked to go back inside until the lights went on, so I ended up driving around for two hours!
5. I write with a combination of cursive and print.
6. My ears are double pierced. I rarely ever wear earrings. I can still painfully push earrings through the first piercing, but I'm not sure I could do the second row.
7. I haven't had a whole lot of embarrassing teaching moments (knock on wood), but once in my first year of teaching, my bellybutton ring somehow came loose and fell out on the floor. I didn't notice it and a boy said, "Here, you dropped your earring!" As he handed it to me, he realized it wasn't an earring and turned eight shades of red. Suffice to say, I stopped wearing jewelry in my bellybutton shortly after that!
8. I really, really strongly dislike winter. I am so thankful that we've had a mild winter this year (PLEASE STAY THAT WAY) because cold, ice, and snow are not my thing. Maybe someday I'll move to a warmer climate.
9. I have no interest in going on a cruise, ever. None. Give me land beneath my feet at all times, thank you.
10. I don't really think I'll ever run a marathon, but if the opportunity to run the Big Five Marathon presented itself, I'd start training tomorrow.
11. If I could afford any sort of regular pampering, it'd be massages. I love massages!

My answers to Bari's questions...
1. What's your go-to, pumps you up every time, workout song?
Oh, this is embarrassing. My running playlist is so lame. I love it when Obadiah Parker's version of "Hey Ya" comes on. Totally gets me moving.
2. Cat or dog?
Dog! Not to say that I don't like cats, but I love big sloppy smelly dogs.
3. Team Jacob or Team Edward?
Jacob, all the way. Edward makes Bella so whiny and gross. I'm actually not a huge fan of the Twilight novels because I think they send mixed messages about appropriate relationshpis and co-dependency, but I did read them all.
4. Beer, wine or mixed drink, and what's your favorite?
I'll take one of each. Okay, funny story. I never drank beer at all until I started running, then I craved it. Now I love Goose Island 312. But I also love sweet wines, like moscato and riesling. And I will never, ever turn down a delicious martini or frozen margarita.
5. Do you have a "good luck" charm of some kind when you race? (a hat you always wear, hair always in the same style, lucky undies, etc)
I don't! I'm pretty random and will just throw on whatever is comfy.
6. What's your favorite iPhone or Android app and why should I download it (if it's iPhone)?
I love instagram for photo sharing. I love Hanging with Friends and Scramble with Friends, but I wish Zynga apps weren't so buggy.
7. Have you always had the same career and was it what you originally studied?
Yes! I declared my major freshman year of college. I knew I wanted to be a teacher. There are times when I wonder if I'd do it over again, though.
8. Have you ever run in a costume and what was it?
Nope, but I did wear a Team Sparkle skirt in the last mud run I did and plan on wearing it in the next mud run I do.
9. Who would play you in a movie about your life, and who would play your significant other?
I've always heard that I look like Winona Ryder, even as a kid people called me Lydia after her character in Beetlejuice. Sometimes my students say I look like Drew Barrymore, but I don't really see that one. I think Tobey Maguire could play Shane, maybe? I don't know!
10. Do you have a nickname, and if yes, what is it?
I do. I never had a nickname until I was married. My first year of teaching, a lot of coworkers shortened my last name and called me Charpie. It stuck!
11. If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This is hard, because I generally love all of the foods, but I'm going to go with french fries. Big piles of french fries.

I'm cheating and not tagging people! Sorry! I have such a hard time keeping up with who has done this and who hasn't. If you want to participate, I will ask 11 questions and I'd love to see the answers of anyone who is reading.
1. What is your greatest accomplishment?
2. If you had to wear just one color for the rest of your life, what color would it be?
3. What is something you've never done that you wish you could do?
4. If you were on death row and had to choose a last meal, what would that meal be?
5. What was your favorite childhood toy?
6. Is there an item that you wish existed, that you'd invent if you only knew how?
7. If you could enter any TV show, movie or book, what would it be?
8. What's your biggest pet peeve?
9. Do you have any hueg fears (like my fear of the dark!)? What are they and how do they affect you?
10. Do you have a nickname? What is it? (I really like this question!)
11. Tell me about a defining moment in your life.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

half marathon training [week 5]

This week was not the best, through no fault of my own. Thursday's monthly migraine knocked me down. There was no way I could run on Thursday and while I wanted to try and get my miles in Friday, I was still dehydrated and pretty lousy from Thursday so I thought it best to rest.

Monday was an easy three miles. Every time I have an easy three miles, the wind decides to scream. It was ridiculously windy, which has to be the worst weather condition. Despite the wind, I still managed an average 9:48 pace. I'll take it!
Tuesday was four miles. I did the first two miles in under twenty minutes and felt good, then my hip freaked out and I had to do run/walk intervals to keep it from spasming. I still finished with a 10:09 pace, but I know I could've done better if my hip hadn't lost it. I am pretty sure I need to head to Fleet Feet soon and get some new shoes, as I've had these for over six months and put around four hundred miles on them. Thankfully I have two gift cards, so I can budget new shoes!
Wednesday was strength training. I made it through another week of the Tough Mudder workout without dying. I might see little baby muscles popping out on my arms, but I'm not sure they're doing anything as of yet.

Saturday was my last step back week before the long runs start increasing. I'm glad it was a shorter run, because I was still sore and achy from Thursday. I felt like my legs were filled with lead, but I just kept pushing forward and finished five miles with a 10:40 pace. Not the best, but I finished it despite feeling like I wanted to throw in the towel halfway through. I always try and do my Saturday runs early. Not because I like to pop right out of bed on Saturday, but because it's SO NICE to come back home, shower, put on comfy clothes and have a whole weekend of nothing stretching ahead of me. It's such a great feeling.

As I know a lot of people are scheduling spring races and other spring things, I wanted to throw out there that I'm definitely planning on doing one of the Chicago epilepsy 5ks (this is why I started running last April... I saw these advertised and knew I HAD to do it next year, for Tommy). I would LOVE for anyone in the area to join me and run or walk for Tommy. You don't have to run, but if you want to try and run it, you have time to train for a 5k between now and May. Maybe this could be the goal you're looking for to get started. Right now I'm leaning toward the one in Wheaton, because it's a) $10 cheaper and b) looks like it's in a really pretty place. If you think you'd like to do this, you don't have to commit to fundraising or anything. If you want to fundraise, that'd always be great, but I'd just really love to have a few faces out there for Tommy and other people/families living with epilepsy. If you think you're interested, let me know which event would work best for you and leave your email address so I can contact you later on. I hope some people can join me!

Friday, February 3, 2012

lowercase day

today i feel like speaking in lowercase. whispers. it's very foggy outside right now. i can't even see the street, which isn't very far away. fog always makes the world seem so quiet, which is good.

yesterday i had a migraine that came slamming out of nowhere. i should've known because i woke up craving a fountain coke. sometimes these help chase my migraines away. other times, nothing will do. the pre-migraine symptoms hit me all at once. one minute, i felt okay. the next, my nose was running, my eyes were watering, i was nauseous, and worst, i was so extremely fatigued. the fatigue is bad when i'm at work. all i want to do is toss up the white flag and crawl under my desk, but i can't. usually i can hold it off and make it through the day, but yesterday, i stepped in the hall and someone had sprayed perfume or cologne everywhere. forget making it through the day, i barely made it to the bathroom before losing the contents of my stomach. i was home by 12:30 and immediately crawled into bed, where i stayed until 11:30 that night. most of the time, i was in too much pain to sleep. i just tossed and turned and prayed for a reprieve for the pain. migraines are really bad. i have an appointment with a neurologist because i can't handle them anymore, but he can't see me until june. i keep telling myself that june is not that far away, but in terms of migraines and pain, it kind of is.

luke is so sweet when i don't feel well. he brought me a bowl of chicken and noodles (the smell of which caused me to throw up, but we won't tell him that) and after his bath last night, he crawled into bed next to me. he rubbed my head. the pain of being touched when i have a migraine is rough. the physical sensation is overwhelming, but i couldn't tell him. so i let him rub my head, gritting my teeth until he drifted off to sleep next to me. he is very empathetic. shane cleaned the house while i was down and out. tommy said, "your head hurt, mama?" and gave me a kiss. he's started kissing us when we're hurt. unfortunately, tommy is usually the one hurting us, so him giving a kiss after pinching or hitting is sweet, but not as sweet as it could be.

today i'm so tired. i'm sad that i missed eleven hours of life yesterday. i'm sad that i couldn't run my planned four miles. i'm sad that i feel so sore and hurt today. i am glad that it's friday, though. i'm glad that i should feel well enough tomorrow to run five miles as scheduled. i wish i had it in me to make up those four miles from yesterday, but i think that tonight calls for the couch and some sort of disney movie with my boys.